Press Releases

Burgess introduces bill to improve Medicare osteoporosis testing

May 20, 2015 | Posted by Cameron Harley
Congressman Michael C. Burgess, M.D., along with Reps. Linda Sanchez, John B. Larson, and Marsha Blackburn today, introduced H.R. 2461, the “Increasing Access to Osteoporosis Testing for Medicare Beneficiaries Act of 2015.”  This legislation establishes a business case for administering Dual Energy X-Ray Absorptiometry (DXA) tests, a critical test for osteoporosis risk that has become too costly for many providers since 2007 reimbursement cuts.

H.R. 2461 has been endorsed by the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists, The International Society for Clinical Densitometry, and the National Osteoporosis Foundation. 

“This bill restores access to a vital preventative service that will dramatically reduce fracture rates and generate a substantial savings,” Rep. Burgess said.  As a physician, I know just how big a public health threat osteoporosis is because, often, patients show no symptoms until they have a fracture. It is critical we act to ensure Medicare providers stay ahead of this debilitating disease.”

Osteoporosis: A prevalent, deadly, and costly looming public health concern:
Low bone mass and osteoporosis is responsible for over two million fractures each year, with half of all women and one-fourth of all men over the age of 50 experiencing osteoporosis related fractures in their lifetime.  54 million Americans over age 50 have osteoporosis. This number is expected to increase by 27 percent by 2030.  

Since 2007 Medicare cuts, there has been a 12.9 percent decline in DXA providers and fewer providers obtaining certifications to administer DXA tests. Overall, more than one million fewer tests have been done since 2008.

A recent Mayo Clinic study shows that the hospital burden of osteoporotic fractures and hospital cost is greater than that of myocardial infarction, stroke, or breast cancer. Medicare paid $18.7 billion in 2010 for direct costs of new fractures and this number is projected to grow to over $25 billion per year by 2025. Furthermore, according to Kaiser Southern California’s Healthy Bones Program, utilization of DXA testing and treatment resulted in 37 percent fewer fractures and more than $30 million savings in a single year.